Thomas H. Heaton - Publications


Heaton has written on topics in seismology, earthquake physics, earthquake early warning and building vibrations. In 1990 he wrote his influential paper on evidence for and implications of pulse like ruptures in real earthquakes. The view before that time was that earthquakes propagate as shear cracks on fault planes in the earth crust. In this crack like models, each point on the fault continues to slip for a substantial part of the total duration of the earthquake. Once the point starts to slip, it will continue to do that until waves are reflected back from the ends of the fault carrying information that the earthquake has already reached its full rupture length. By studying slip inversions of several real earthquakes, Heaton came to the conclusion that the crack like view is not always true. On the contrary, he found that the slip duration at any point on the fault usually does not exceed one tenth of the total earthquake time. This implies that the rupture heals shortly after its initiation at any point and he provided examples of possible physical mechanisms that can result in this early healing. Heaton's view was faced by a huge controversy but it triggered a lot of research to test his model. Numerous analytical, numerical and experimental work have been done in the subsequent years that showed supporting evidence for Heaton's model. Pulse like mode of rupture is now a widely accepted model and it is sometimes even called Heaton Pulses honoring Heaton's contribution in that field.

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